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South Whidbey gathers to cheer for Mariners

Although arms and legs were busy working out Wednesday at Island Athletic Club in Freeland, all eyes were on the Mariners game on four television screens. - Matt Johnson
Although arms and legs were busy working out Wednesday at Island Athletic Club in Freeland, all eyes were on the Mariners game on four television screens.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Never mind that their team is down two games in the playoffs.

The rallying cry, “2 out, so what!” is how Mariner fans still feel, even after two losses to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

Mariner fever is as rampant on South Whidbey as it is everywhere else in the Northwest. As the American League Division Series playoffs began against Cleveland tiny television sets were dusted off and brought to offices and stores for the midweek daytime games. Radios were tuned to the Mariners station, those who could disappeared for a few afternoon hours, and every restaurant or bar with a TV set got a lot more daylight business.

From Langley’s Good Cheer to the Freeland Cafe and the Island Athletic Club, baseball was the name of the game. You could find out the score wherever you went.

Many television watchers also had earphones connected to a portable radio, tuned to KIRO-AM 710, the Mariners flagship station.

“I listen to Dave (Niehaus),” said Marty Murphy, one of the most enthusiastic supporters at a Bayview Back Forty gathering. Others agreed that the “My Oh My!” signature of the Mariners announcer was regrettably missing from the network coverage.

Murphy was among those leaping up from their seats and cheering as Ichiro beat out an infield hit, Buhner made a spectacular catch, or Kazu Sasaki stormed past the last three Cleveland batters to give Game 5 and the American League Division Series to the Mariners.

With the American League Championship at stake in the second round of playoffs against the world champion New York Yankees, local Mariner fans were as optimistic as they had been throughout the Cleveland series.

Even as they watched the Yankees get the best of their team in the first two games, the mood just about everywhere was one of confidence.

At the Island Athletic Club Wednesday, some treadmill, stationary bicycle, and stairclimber workouts lasted a little longer than usual as members kept walking and pumping just a few minutes more to watch the end of whatever inning was on the club’s four televisions. At 4 p.m. Wednesday, a quick survey of the seven people working out on the machines confirmed that everyone was watching the one screen showing the baseball game. No one gave a press conference with an Army general on CNN a second glance.

At the Dog House in Langley on Thursday night, a full house was alternately subdued and energized. And after the game, a 4-3 Mariners loss, most of the patrons talked about the next game as the M’s headed east to New York City.

“They’re going to come back, no question,” said Danael Ball, tending the Dog House bar.

And Belinda Hall, wearing her Mariners shirt and an array of other M’s paraphernalia, said she and her mother, Yvonne, would be back to watch the win.

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